DALLAS — Dallas Independent School District superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa is stepping down from the position after more than six years, multiple sources have told WFAA.
Sources confirmed that Hinojosa, 65, will likely leave within the year, although his contract is not set to expire until July 31, 2024.
According to a Dallas Morning News report, Hinojosa announced the news of his impending resignation on a call with other Texas superintendents earlier this week.
An official announcement is expected to come at a Thursday afternoon press conference immediately following Dallas ISD's monthly board 11:30 a.m. briefing, where Hinojosa is expected to formally tender his resignation to the district's trustees.
District sources told WFAA that Susana Cordova, the number two at Dallas ISD (and the former superintendent of schools in Denver, Colo.), and Dr. Stephanie Elizalde, who left Dallas ISD to become chief at Austin ISD, are two potential leading candidates to replace Hinojosa. A formal search will be conducted, however.
One member of the Dallas ISD board of trustees said Hinojosa's departure will not be entirely abrupt.
"Dr. Hinojosa is not leaving immediately," Dallas ISD board member Dan Micciche told WFAA in a statement that also thanked Hinojosa for his years of service to the district. "The school board will be considering a succession plan."
Former board member Miguel Solis called Hinojosa a “rare breed” who served about twice as long as most big-city superintendents.
“The average tenure for a large urban school district superintendent is three years,” Solis said.
Solis was a member of the Dallas ISD board that hired Hinojosa for a second term as superintendent in 2015.
“We made it real clear to him the things we hoped he’d accomplish for us in his second tenure and he made very clear to us that when he felt like he did the job we asked him to do, that would be the right time for him to step aside. So, in some ways it’s not a shock to me,” Solis said.
“He did everything we asked him to do.”
As for what's in the cards longer-term for the outgoing superintendent, there has been speculation for weeks that Hinojosa might wade into politics, perhaps even running for Dallas mayor in 2023. Incumbent Mayor Eric Johnson has not yet confirmed whether he will seek re-election.
Hinojosa has had two stints as superintendent of Texas' second-largest school district. His first run lasted from 2005 to 2011. He initially left his position as superintendent in 2011 under pressure relating to budgetary concerns and scrutiny. He eventually took a job as school superintendent in Cobb County, Georgia, in suburban Atlanta.
But Hinojosa returned to the district as superintendent to replace Mike Miles, whose three-year run at the helm was mired in controversy and criticism.
In total, Hinojosa has spent nearly 13 years in charge of Dallas ISD. The district’s board of trustees most recently extended Hinojosa's contract in 2019, adding five more years to his term and providing him a five percent pay raise, plus additional pay incentives if certain goals were met.
Throughout his most recent run as superintendent, Hinojosa established a Racial Equity Office within Dallas ISD and stopped using suspensions to discipline students. He also earned the approval of President Joe Biden, who supported Hinojosa's mid-pandemic position of requiring masks in schools in the face of an executive order from Texas Governor Greg Abbott prohibiting such mandates.
“He’s shown to me he’s thinking of the safety of the children first as he makes decisions and politics is on the back burner,” said Kevin Malonson, father of one current Dallas ISD student and one recent graduate.
Malonson is now Texas executive director for Teach Plus, a nonprofit teacher leadership organization focused on equity and opportunity.
Previously, he was a school district employee serving as a coordinator at the Young Men’s Leadership Academy under Hinojosa.
“I think he’s been courageous when he could be courageous. I think he stepped out when the political atmosphere was one that will benefit teachers and kids.”
Rena Honea, president of Alliance-AFT, a union that represents Dallas ISD employees, called Hinojosa a "strong leader."
"I have appreciated the work of Dr. Hinojosa as the superintendent of Dallas ISD during both rounds of his tenure," Honea said in a statement provided to WFAA. "While he and I have not always agreed on things, we’ve always worked as professionals and tried to find solutions that are good for students and employees. He has led the district in advancing public education through tremendous challenges like tornadoes and the COVID-19 virus and variants. Best of luck to him in his new endeavors."
A tornado touched down in Dallas in October 2019, damaging 21 Dallas ISD schools. Two campuses were a total loss.
Hinojosa was in the process of trying to steer the district back to a sense of normalcy when COVID appeared in March 2020.
In a tweet shared on Wednesday afternoon, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins thanked Hinojosa for his "steadfast leadership and friendship" before adding "I’m so proud to be a DISD parent and thankful for our partnership on keeping kids safe, in school, and excelling!"
Hinojosa is a Dallas native who graduated from Sunset High School in Oak Cliff.
Dallas ISD, the 16th-largest district in the country, has about 145,000 students across 230 schools.
On Thursday, Fort Worth ISD's Dr. Kent Scribner also announced his intentions to step down from his role at the end of his own contract.